HEISKELL, Tenn. (WATE) — Pumpkins, corn mazes, and now, Christmas trees. Recent drought-like conditions have affected local farmers, which could continue to put a damper on some of your holiday decorating plans.
Owner of Bluebird Christmas Tree Farm Leo Collins said due to recent weather conditions, tree branches are growing a little bit shorter this year.
“We had a hard winter and it really set the trees back and then the rains early on, we didn’t have a lot of rain, but it was easily spaced,” he explained. “So, the trees did okay at first but then they really quit growing.”
Collins grows several different types of trees including Norway Spruce, Leyland Cypress, and Scotch Pine. He said it takes about eight years for a tree to grow big enough to sell.
Collins also brings in several types of fir trees from North Carolina. Altogether, they sell around 1,500 Christmas trees a year during the holiday season.
Collins said his larger trees weren’t affected too much by the recently dry conditions, but his younger trees didn’t have as much of a growth spurt.
“Most of the trees, instead of growing a foot, they ended up growing six or eight inches,” he explained. “So, it’s really going to keep them from being sellable for a while.”
According to WATE 6 Storm Team Assistant Chief Meteorologist Victoria Cavaliere, drought conditions are present all across East Tennessee.
“Here locally, our drought conditions have really had a big impact,” she said. “These drought numbers should be close to 100 percent but instead, they are close to about 22 percent, with some areas not even seeing ten percent of the amount of rainfall that they should over the past 30 days.”
Collins said dry conditions won’t affect the price of your Christmas tree but he, along with Victoria, said it may affect when you want to get one.
“The current drought that we’re currently seeing may actually impact your Christmas tree by its appearance,” Victoria explained. “That’s why it’s sometimes urged that you wait a little bit longer before you get your Christmas tree. So, by the time Christmas rolls around it still looks good.”
Collins adds that once you get your tree, it’s important to water them regularly to keep the branches looking fresh.
Bluebird Tree Farm opens on November 16th.